Gerrit Hendricks has been an inspiration to an entire generation of disabled athletes here on the Garden Route, participating in every Outeniqua Cycle Challenge since 2006.
He did not finish that year, but it only encouraged him to work harder. He has finished on the podium every year since then apart from in 2017 when he had mechanical problems and had to withdraw from the race.
Starting out riding one Ernst van Dyk’s old cycles, he later received equipment sponsored by ACSA and the Challenged Athletes Foundation in the USA which allowed him to significantly improve his times.
Although his focus these days is on track racing, he is looking forward to competing in the OCC again this year in the T54 category.
Gerrit says that, for disabled athletes, the OCC is the highlight of the year.
“I have a love-hate relationship with the OCC. I won a few half marathons in the event, but the other times there were some glitches during the race. It becomes a very psychological thing and your mind starts telling you about all the things that can go wrong,” he told the George Herald in 2017.
Track has a very different training regime to road racing and Gerrit is still unsure as to whether he will be attempting the full marathon.
Gerrit has competed in New York, London, Switzerland, and Portugal with mixed success.
He considers the highlight of his career to be 2015 when he was selected to represent South Africa at the Africa Games in Brazzaville.
Since then injuries have hampered his participation in major events.
Gerrit was involved in a motor vehicle accident as a nine-year-old boy as a result of which he lost the use of his lower body.
At school he represented SWD at chess, something he enjoys to this day.
He graduated from Stellenbosch University in 2000.
Today he lives in Oudtshoorn and works as a passenger information agent for ACSA at the George Airport.
The Outeniqua Cycle Challenge
The 17’Th OCC, a wheelchair race which attracts athletes from all over the world, will take place in George on Saturday 14 September 2019!
A wheelchair race exclusively for disabled athletes!
And – every year it is getting bigger and better! The number of entries has increased dramatically, with disabled athletes and other persons in wheelchairs flocking to this annual event.
The Challenge is not only unique as being the first and only event exclusively for the disabled in South Africa, but it is staged in the picturesque town of George, in the heart of the spectacular Garden Route in the Western Cape, situated at the foot of the splendour of the Outeniqua Mountains.
Athletes in racing wheelchairs, adapted bicycles, hand cycles, basketball chairs and ordinary wheelchairs have made this into the premier sporting event for the disabled on the South African sporting calendar. It undoubtedly has the potential to develop into one of the best events of its kind in the world!
Event Organising Body: Disabled Road Race Foundation (DRFF)
Race Organiser: Alewijn Dippenaar
Mobile: 082 457 5675
Online Entries: http://georgeocc.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/OCC_DRRF_Entry-Form14September2019.pdf
Headline Sponsor: George Municipality/Golden Tears
Sponsors: Dept of Cultural Affairs & Sport and Lancewood
Venue Host: Halfway Toyota George
Product Sponsor: Safari